'Vatican helped Nazis evade conviction after Holocaust'

Harvard researcher's new book claims that Catholic authorities helped SS men find exile, avoid trial, in years following World War II.

May 27, 2011 14:52
1 minute read.
Dr. Gerald Steinacher

Gerald Steinacher 311. (photo credit: University of Innsbruck)

A new book by Harvard Research Fellow Gerald Steinacher has claimed that thousands of Nazis were able to evade justice following the Holocaust thanks to the complicity of the Vatican.

Nazis on the Run: How Hitler's Henchmen Fled Europe, published this month by Oxford University Press, claims that Catholic authorities helped SS men including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele avoid detection, travel safely out of Europe, and live comfortably in exile after the end of World War II.

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According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, Steinacher examined a trove of unpublished Red Cross documents, which showed that understaffed and overwhelmed European human rights workers attempting to resettle the millions of displaced victims of World War II unwittingly created a network that was exploited by Nazis evading justice.

Using papers they were issued by the Red Cross through fraud, Steinacher writes, some 8,000 former SS men managed to find exile in Britain and Canada in the years following 1945.

But while the Red Cross may have inadvertently aided these former Nazis, the Vatican was well aware of the role they played.

The Telegraph wrote, "'Owing to a desire to revive a Christian Europe or out of a morbid fear of the Soviet Union, the Vatican, through its refugee commission,' said Mr. Steinacher, 'provided leading war criminals with false identity papers.'"

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